Gareth Powell is Managing Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London.
On 25th July 2018 (nearly three years ago) he wrote a letter (pdf) to the Assistant Coroner of the Inner West London Coroner’s Court, to explain what Transport for London was going to do to prevent a repeat of the avoidable killing of Lucia Ciccioli on Lavander Hill in October 2016.
Lucia was killed by a lorry driver who was talking on his mobile phone at the time.
The junction’s poor design was in the Coroner’s view a major contributory factor to the tragedy and TfL was summoned to explain what they would be doing to fix the dangerous design that forces people riding bicycles to merge in front of motor vehicles.
Specifically the Coroner wrote:
The narrow aspect of Lavander Hill immediately past the junction places cyclists in a vulnerable position when they arrive in Lavender Hill from the Junction. There is no cycle lane provision in Lavender Hill immediately after the junction.
Graphically this is the problem:
In his response to the Coroner, Gareth Powell outlined the solution: reduce the number of motor lanes from two to one before the junction and design a cycle lane before and after the junction. It is really not a difficult intervention.
However, in typical TfL fashion, Powell didn’t seem concerned about the urgency of fixing this death trap. He said that it would take 18 months (!!!) to prepare the revised design; a consultation would follow, and construction “could begin in 2020”.
So December 2019 was the promised deadline to show the new design. However December came and went and no announcement was made. We wrote to Stuart Reid, Head of Vision Zero at TfL, asking to see the plans but received no reply. We chased him twice and still no information; so we issued a FOIA request and TfL tried to weasel out citing Covid. We pressed them and finally got the answer:
We do not hold the information you have requested. We continue to work on the design of the junction which, despite our best endeavours, we were unable to complete at the end of last year. The design we are currently working on will be modelled to consider the impact upon things such as bus journey times and the needs of pedestrians in the area. However, under the current circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, this work has been delayed. Any final design will be subject to consultation.
Did Gareth Powell write to the Coroner apologising for breaking his promise? Did he write to the family of Lucia Ciccioli to apologise that he has not done what he promised to do?
We doubt it. Powell is taking advantage of a broken system. The Coroner issues a request to fix a life-threatening situation but has no power (and/or interest) to follow up; so the relevant authority plays the game: writes a letter with empty promises and then ignores them.
This is England: systems designed to fail so that the elites cannot be taken to account. A fantastically corrupt nation in denial.